The recent Supreme Court ruling that determined same-sex couples have the same marriage rights as opposite-sex couples has been met with both celebration and consternation. On the consternation side, the most immediate outcome has been in the form of the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill with the stated purpose of protecting employers from discrimination, if they act “in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” This would obviously have big implications for same-sex couples, but it would also potentially affect other workers whose personal lives don’t match their employers’ beliefs, including unmarried women who have children.
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The bill would prohibit the federal government from taking “discriminatory action” when an employer’s action was determined to be associated with religious belief, according to Huffington Post. In more specific terms, the bill is clearly in response to the Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling. But, while the main target is obvious, the more insidious (but no less blatant) victim of this legislation would be unwed mothers, who would find themselves without recourse or protection by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
That all probably sounds like paranoid thinking, right? It seems impossible that it could happen in this century. After all, why would an employer want to fire a mother simply because she was not married, or because she was not married to a person of the opposite sex?
The reality is that it’s not illegal for a religious school to dismiss a single woman from her teaching job when she becomes pregnant. Linked as this latest legislation is with other cases across the U.S., it’s an elaborate evisceration of the EEOC.
Pregnant women are not the only workers at risk. You may work in a secular workplace. There may be no immediate prospect of you becoming a single mother. You may be saying: “It’s not important. It doesn’t affect me.”
But, here’s the thing: it’s a slippery slope – and the ball (or bill) rolling down that slope is picking up momentum as it gains more support. Beyond the claims that it’s protecting rights for the freedom of religion, it’s actually legislating morality.
Who’s to say that your boss won’t disagree with your choices next?
There are ways to fight pregnancy discrimination, but you must take a stand. Let your representatives know your stand on this bill.
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